Three suspects killed by forces loyal to Yahya Jammeh following attack on presidential palace in Banjul
A group of disaffected soldiers launched a foiled coup bid in the Gambia on Tuesday while the president was abroad, military and diplomatic sources said.
Forces loyal to President Yahya Jammeh, who has ruled the west African country for 20 years, killed three suspects including the alleged ringleader – an army deserter, a military officer said.
The officer, speaking from Bissau, said the deserter – named as Lamin Sanneh – led a heavily-armed attack with six men on the presidential palace in the capital Banjul.
The pre-dawn assault triggered panic in Bissau, while national radio went off air for several hours and state television was suspended.
Jammeh’s precise whereabouts remained unclear. Gambian officials said the president was on a private visit to Dubai and foreign diplomats said he was in France, but an official in Paris said there was no sign he was in the country.
Opposition politician Sheikh Sidya Bayo told a private Senegalese radio station that the unrest was “the start of a mutiny that changed” into a bid to topple Jammeh.
Three of the suspected coup plotters were killed and another captured by Jammeh’s forces, but there was no confirmation of an overall death toll from the fighting.
“Police and the army are now entirely in control of the situation,” the military officer said.
A Gambian diplomat said the presidential palace in the heart of the small city on the Gambia river was attacked at about 3am by armed men, including members of the presidential guard.